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Published: September 22nd 2008
Group 21B arriving in Port Vila after a warm welcome by Peace Corps volunteers and staff!
Hi friends! I am finally here in Port Vila, Vanuatu! We arrived Saturday and it has been a busy and incredible few days already. When we first arrived in the airport after a long trip (and almost having to stay in the airport another week because some of us were accidentally booked on standby) we were welcomed by smiling faces and a string band playing as we waited in line for customs. The island is beautiful and the weather is perfect. The airport in Port Vila only has one baggage carousel for all of its flights so there are bags everywhere and it's kind of a mess trying to pick out everyone's bags, but luckily we all had our luggage.
When I went through customs, I had to declare any food items, so I gave the man a good laugh when I pulled out all my spices from my sneakers and shoes where I strategically packed them haha. We all slowly exited the airport and could here loud cheering. All of the current Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) had surprised us by coming and welcoming us. They took all of our luggage off our hands, gave us lava lavas (sarong type
wraps), a coconut with a straw to drink from, a name pin, and a fresh flower lei (i forgot the formal name). We then went for a little mini bus tour around Port Vila, received a welcome from the Country Director, and received a short "kava tok tok" about the etiquette of drinking kava from the kava guild comprised of a couple current peace corps volunteers. There are a lot of cultural considerations when drinking kava, for example, it is a quiet peaceful time and it is disrespectful to talk too loud. They encouraged us to join them for kava at a nearby nakamel in 15 minutes even though we had been traveling for a day... so of course we all obliged excited to take part in this important custom in Vanuatu.
Kava has a notoriously bad taste and I was expecting the worse before i took a sip from the bowl. After drinking the whole thing, which tasted something like liquid dirt, it wasn't so bad as I expected. Kava makes your mouth a little numb for a few minutes and gives you a short buzz, but it wasn't as strong as I expected. Then again I only had one shell. After a little chat with the volunteers, we went to grab dinner- pizza of all things and that night I slept like a baby...
On Sunday we had a pretty free day other than a tea party at the country director's house. After my hibernation of about 15 hours of sleep, some of the volunteers and I took a walk to the local market- Supermarche Numba2- to get some food. I expected a little market maybe the size of 7 11. I was extremely wrong, I came to find a store almost the size of Walmart with just about everything you could imagine- food, clothing, kitchen supplies, wine, copy services, photo printing, etc. When we were in LA, we were all trying to eat everything we expected not to have again for 2 years, well we could pretty much find everything we could ever want in the market. We were also recently informed that a new phone company called Digicell has entered Vanuatu and now cell phone service is expanding to like 75% of remote villages, so there is a good chance I will even have cell phone service, definately not what I was expecting, but that is why they tell you to have an open mind...
For the next week we will be in Port Vila, but after Saturday I will probably not have a form of communication for 2 months that we are in the training village staying with a host family.
I will write more and post some pictures this week 😊 Miss everyone and send my love...
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